A RETIRED consultant psychiatrist who was found guilty last year of raping a patient in a hospital photocopying room in North Yorkshire in 1988 has had his conviction quashed. Dr Michael Haslam, 70, of Crayke, had been jailed for seven years after being found guilty of rape and four charges of indecent assault.
But yesterday, the Court of Appeal ruled the rape conviction was "unsafe", although the four convictions of indecent assault were upheld.
Dr Haslam will serve a three-year prison sentence instead of seven years.
Lawyers for Dr Haslam argued that the case against him should not have been allowed to proceed because it related to alleged events in the 1980s – so long ago as to render the trial unfair.
Tom Bayliss QC urged the court to hold that the convictions were unsafe and that 70-year-old Haslam should be freed from prison.
Dr Haslam had been convicted at Leeds Crown Court of raping a patient and was also found guilty on four charges of indecent assault on the same woman and two other women between 1981 and 1988.
The appeal was heard as a matter of urgency this week because of the doctor's age and the lapse of time since the alleged offences occurred.
Dr Haslam worked at Clifton Hospital, York, until he left the National Health Service in 1989 and entered private practice. He retired in 1998.
The trial judge, Mr Justice Gray, had said the assaults took place under the pretext of treatment that was "inappropriate or of doubtful therapeutic benefit or both".
Mr Bayliss told Lord Justice Maurice Kay, Mr Justice Elias and Judge Barker QC that Haslam had a distinguished career and had published a number of works on subjects including psycho-sexual disorders.
He argued that the charges should not have been dealt with at the same time but should have been heard at two or three separate trials.
He also claimed that the trial judge's summing-up to the jury on certain aspects of the defence case was inadequate.
Opposing the appeal, Crown counsel Paul Worsley QC argued that the trial judge was correct in allowing the case to proceed.
He said a psychiatrist "treats a patient's mind and would not normally lay hands on a patient at all" and there was no reason for a psychiatrist to require a patient to take her clothes off.
"There was an element of "grooming" in the case and the assaults took place "under the pretext of relaxation therapy".